Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell appointed a committee June 26 to review farm policy as Congress begins work on the 2018 farm bill.
Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker said farmer involvement is critical to ensure the next farm bill preserves an economic safety net for American agriculture.
“The last three farm bills have shifted farm programs away from traditional price supports and toward crop insurance,” Walker said. “This has left gaps in protection for certain commodities. The emphasis on crop insurance is likely to continue in the next farm bill, and it's important for members of Congress to hear from farmers about what works and what doesn’t.”
Appointed to the Federation’s farm bill committee were Jeremy Calvert, Cullman County; Will Gilmer, Lamar County; Mark Kaiser, Baldwin County; Bob Luker, Talladega County; James Walker, Lauderdale County; and Ricky Wiggins, Covington County. Parnell said other farmers may be added to the group in coming months.
The Federation already is working to make sure the voices of Alabama farmers are heard. In June, the Federation’s Caleb Bristow testified at a U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee farm bill listening session at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Bristow is executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, also visited Alabama in July, where he met with farmers on a variety of topics, including the farm bill.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 80 percent of 2014 farm-bill spending goes to food stamps and nutrition programs. Crop insurance accounts for 8 percent; conservation, 6 percent; and commodity programs, 5 percent. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (or farm bill) was projected to cost $489 billion over five years.